President Joe Biden said Friday he has not yet made a decision on whether to cut some U.S. tariffs on imports from China, saying his administration was reviewing them “one at a time.”
Biden had been due to discuss the tariffs with his advisers on Friday, but it was unclear when he would make a decision on whether to remove some of them to try to fight inflation, people familiar with the deliberations said.
“I haven’t made that decision,” Biden told reporters when asked about his plans for the tariffs after signing an executive order to protect access to abortions. “We’re going through them one at a time,” he said of the tariffs.
Biden has been struggling in recent weeks to balance competing desires to use every lever possible to ease inflation and to maintain pressure on China to try to win concessions on Beijing’s state-driven economic policies.
The discussions surround the “Section 301” tariffs imposed in 2018 and 2019 by then-President Donald Trump on thousands of products valued at $370 billion at the time over China’s alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property.
Some in the administration, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, have argued that many of these duties are “non-strategic” and raise costs for American consumers and businesses. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai has said the tariffs are “a significant piece of leverage” in the U.S.-China trade relationship.
Other sources close to the process have said that Biden is taking his time to work through the complex web of options and consequences, which include removing a substantial amount of tariffs goods, and cutting them from a more limited list of Chinese-made consumer products.
The White House also is considering an expanded process for approving product-specific exclusions from the tariffs and whether to pair any action with a new Section 301 investigation into China’s state subsidies and plans to dominate high-technology industries, the sources have said.
The White House had no immediate comment on the tariff discussions.
More than 400 requests from industry and labor groups have requested that the U.S. Trade Representative’s office keep the China tariffs in place, indicating that Biden could face some backlash if he chooses a substantial tariff reduction.
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